Watauga County Urges Residents to Practice Tornado Safety, March 3-9 is Severe Weather Preparedness Week; Statewide Drill is March 6

Last Updated on March 4, 2024 10:32 am

Watauga County Emergency Management urges Watauga County residents to prepare for severe weather that may occur with little to no warning this spring. 

March 3-9 is Severe Weather Preparedness Week in North Carolina. Watauga County officials urge residents to participate in the annual statewide tornado drill March 6 to practice their emergency plan in case severe weather strikes our state.

“Spring brings the potential for severe weather,” said Emma Ward County Emergency Management Planner “The best thing you can do for you and your family is to be prepared for severe weather. Not only can severe thunderstorms develop rapidly, but they can also bring hail, flash floods and tornadoes. Residents should have a family emergency plan, assemble a supplies kit and stay alert by listening to local radio, television or a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) radio for information on severe weather.”

Watauga County schools and government buildings will participate in the statewide tornado drill Wednesday, March 6, at 9:30 a.m. The National Weather Service (NWS) will broadcast the drill over NOAA weather radio stations and the Emergency Alert System. 

“All county residents, businesses and organizations are encouraged to participate in the drill. Practicing what to do is part of being prepared and knowing what to do when severe weather strikes,” Ward said. “The time you take now to prepare will make all the difference if and when disaster strikes.” 

In 2022, the NWS issued 107 tornado warnings for North Carolina and recorded 21 tornadoes. There were 74 flood incidents across the state. In addition, the NWS issued 752 severe thunderstorm warnings, and recorded 125 large hail events and 826 damaging thunderstorm wind events.

Watauga County Emergency Management officials recommend having a family emergency plan in place so all members know where to go, who to call and what to do during a disaster. Officials also recommend staying alert by listening to weather radios that broadcast alerts from the National Weather Service. 

Emergency officials recommend residents use the following safety tips:

  • Know the terms: WATCH means a tornado is possible. WARNING means a tornado has been spotted; take shelter immediately.
  • Know where the nearest safe room is, such as a basement or interior room and away from windows, and go there immediately if you hear or see a tornado.
  • If driving, you should leave your vehicle immediately to seek safety in an adequate structure. Do not try to outrun a tornado in your vehicle, and do not stop under an overpass or a bridge.
  • If you are outdoors, and there is no shelter available, take cover in a low-lying flat area. Watch out for flying debris.
  • Following a storm, wear sturdy shoes, long sleeves and gloves when walking on or near debris, and be aware of exposed nails and broken glass.
  • Be aware of damaged power or gas lines and electrical systems that may cause fires, electrocution or explosions.

More information on tornadoes and overall emergency preparedness can be found online at

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